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Xbox 360 Review: MUD: FIM Motocross World Championship

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If you actually drank the number of energy drinks your character is required to in order to pass the world tour of MUD, you would be dead. The inordinate amount of sugary, caffeinated sweetness is probably the equivalent of eating 18 pounds of bacon in terms of overall health impact. The difference is that bacon stops your heart. Energy drinks explode it.

Never mind that you drink them while on your bike. You can even drink them mid-air… with a helmet on. That is a far better trick than any of the can-cans or flips in the game’s trick mode. What exactly do these drinks do you ask? They boost performance (like giving a speed boost). Maybe they end up in the gas tank and not the rider, or the rider is so buzzed he simply thinks he is going faster.

Anyway, MUD is a lame duck of the racing genre, a slog of mediocre design that barely thrills. Stock races, of which there are many, are simple laps with no zip of which to speak. Mud (the dirt, not the game) becomes a religion, and no matter the location of these worldwide courses, they all feel the same. There are attempts to saturate the grasslands of France and dim the more industrial US, but this is still the same mud. All of the character happens off course, small snippets of machinery or landscaping brightening the murky material.

Despite carrying an MX license, MUD never aims to be a simulation. Then again, it hardly does enough to warrant arcade status either. MUD is confused within its own body; odd coming from simulation stalwarts Namco who handled the supremely detailed Moto GP series. Just seeing their name is enough to make the assumption of a serious effort. Instead, players are granted mini speed boosts with energy drinks and Scrub, a tire kick in mid-air that boosts upon proper landing. That is it for the racing.

There is a trick system in place, utterly wasted except for a separate game type. If nothing else, the trick mode carries some life with fantasy courses set in wild locations like an aircraft carrier. This also shows a missed opportunity for a crash mode – wrecking out is hilariously painful.

There is also the issue of radical inconsistency applied to wrecks, corners are sometimes invincible, sometimes not. Respawning in a crowd means potentially being smashed to the ground as you warp back inside another rider, all outside your control. Physics have no place here, even when it comes to jumps. Bunny hills can rocket the rider into the air, while mounds of mud have no effect at top speed.

MUD licenses riders and then removes them from world tour, as if that makes any sense. Instead, players begin a career with one of four character selections that have nothing unique about them outside of the menu art. Cash is earned to unlock new tricks or upgrade the chosen misfit in one of four simplistic categories.

On the track, divots form in the mud, deep enough that the controls tend to hug the grooves and pull the bike. There is a frail quality to the movement, enough to sell the idea of being on something that gives most of its heft to the earth below. No one will argue against MUD being functional, the act of turning and dodging riders performing up to par. It is in that base level that the game collapses in on itself, never wacky enough to noticed and never hardcore to the point of being professional.

It just sort of is… with one hell of a sponsor in energy drink manufacturers.

MUD: FIM Motocross World Championship is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Mild Lyrics, Mild Suggestive Themes. This game can also be found on: PS3

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.